Forty teams made up of doctors, residents and medical students participated in the 10th annual Southeast Regional MedWAR in Fort Gordon, GA. Twenty teams finished the contest. And one of our college’s squads, led by first-year medical student Luke Lin, finished ninth. Luke’s team included Steven Bright, Ashley Curry and Lynn McGrath. Other UCF College of Medicine participants were Shawna Bellew, Bryant Lambe, Jen Villavicencio, and Brittany Moscato.

The race was developed to teach and test techniques of wilderness medicine. Participants had to run or mountain-bike through a course, finding their way with the help of compass. Every few miles, they had to respond to a “medical emergency,” including a snake bite, a near-drowning, altitude sickness and an allergic reaction to a bee sting. At each stop, judges evaluated and scored the team on the medical care it provided. In one case, for example, Lynn had to pretend he had fallen off his mountain bike and was suffering from a punctured lung. He coughed, was short of breath, appeared to be bleeding and was fading fast. His teammates had to diagnose his condition and provide proper care in the wilderness. “You had to think on your feet in stressful situations,” Ashley said. “Because these were simulated real-world scenarios, I know we aren’t going to forget the lessons we learned.”

The course also included quizzes on subjects such as physiology, pathology and microbiology. “We thought a lot about Dr. Balkwill out there,” said Ashley, referring to the microbiology professor’s Human Body: Health and Disease lectures. Those lessons became especially meaningful as the students suffered cuts and abrasions from running through the brush and then had to wade through waist-deep mucky water in a swamp.

Ashley said the contest tested the participants’ teamwork, motivation and perseverance. “It was grueling and much more physically demanding than we expected,” she said. “As first-year medical students we figured that what we lacked in knowledge we would make up in physical fitness. But on Sunday, when it was all over, I told people I’d never been so sore in my life.”

Luke and Lynn organized a students’ Wilderness Medical Society at the UCF College of Medicine and are looking for Central Florida locations for future MedWAR events. “I’ve always enjoyed outdoor activities like running, backpacking, kayaking and camping,” said Luke. “Any excuse to get outdoors. I like pushing my limits and seeing how long and how fast I can go.”